In the past year, the persecution of Christians has not only increased, but it has also spread to more corners of the globe – with incidents occurring on every continent, according to a new report.
The advocacy group Open Doors USA recently released the latest edition of its annual World Watch List, which ranks countries based on the treatment of their Christian populations. The group said the increase in incidents considered persecution was alarming and only getting worse.
“It is appalling that Open Doors has to report that persecution has increased again in 2016 and we are still at the worst levels of persecution in modern times,” David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, said to Fox News. “The spread of persecution has gotten worse, now hitting nearly every continent in the world. There were 23 Christians killed in Mexico specifically because of their faith.”
The report comes on the heels of another study by the Center for Studies on New Religions that showed nearly 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2016 and that as many as 600 million were prevented from practicing their faith through intimidation, forced conversions, bodily harm or even death.
“These numbers underscore what we already know,” Robert Nicholson of the Philos Project, an advocacy group for Christianity in the Middle East, told Fox News at the time of the report’s release. “There are many places on Earth where being a Christian is the most dangerous thing you can be. Those who think of Christianity as a religion of the powerful need to see that in many places it’s a religion of the powerless. And the powerless deserve to be protected.”
Open Doors said in its new report that some 215 million Christians around the globe are facing some degree of persecution. But that number, it noted, could actually be much higher.
“Our report is conservative because it only calculates incidents that are reported and can be validated,” Curry told Fox News. “It is likely that there are thousands of incidents that are never reported and nobody knows because Christians are often fearful to tell anyone – even their own family members.”
Curry said the group has seen an uptick in persecution in various countries throughout Asia, driven by governments and Islamic extremism. Christians in that part of the world have been targeted by nationalist religious movements — Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist — in such countries as Pakistan, India and Myanmar.
“Governmental raids increased, church membership requirements were suddenly doubled overnight resulting in churches being regarded as now illegal, among other things,” Curry told Fox News. “This is one area of the world that we are keeping a careful eye on because of the dramatic rise in persecution.”
Many of these groups increasingly view Christianity as a foreign, “colonial” import, and believe its practitioners are doing the bidding of the West, experts say.
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SOURCE: FOX News